Award-winning poet speaks at English department awards

The Portland State English department presented its 39th Annual Nina Mae Kellogg lecture and student awards Wednesday night, putting cash prizes into more than a dozen student pockets.

The featured speaker, versatile, English-born James Lasdun, read from both his poetry and his most recent novel, “The Horned Man.” He also has written short stories and screen plays.

Lasdun read from his work, rather than delivering a prepared lecture, and answered questions from the audience. He interspersed his reading with comments about his domestic life, which drew laughter.

Lasdun, his wife and children live in Woodstock in upstate New York, where, he said, “The only way to get rid of the chipmunks is to pee in their holes.”

Psychedelic jimson weed grows in profusion at Woodstock, he revealed.

“Throw the seeds in the air, open your mouth and whatever lands in your mouth is the correct dosage,” he said.

He said he greatly admires the stories of Raymond Carver, although he came to Carver too late for the now-deceased short story writer to influence his own writing. He traced some of his own influences back to Kafka.

Asked how he views the role of poetry in the United States, he said, “The big poet is seen as the big healer. I suppose they’re judged by how good you feel.”

He personally judges poets “by the depth of their emotions and the power of their language.”

Asked why he writes, he replied, “I write entirely to please myself. It gives me great pleasure to think that it pleases others.”

He once wrote at night, but he has changed.

“I really like really early morning,” he said.

A.B. Paulson, professor of English, presented the awards.

@subhead:Award winners:

@body: * Kellogg Award: senior awards, Patrick Tweed; sophomore awards, Genevra Csipkay-Brehm.

* Freshman course assignment: first prize, Anthony Jackson; honorable mention, Janette Royse.

* Undergraduate course assignment: first prize, Anthony Jackson; co-second prize, Erin Stevanus and Tom Lowes.

* Poetry: first prize Naomi Fast, co-honorable mention; Nicolas Alvarado-Greenwood and Autumn Watts.

* Undergraduate fiction: first prize, Autumn Watts; second prize, Laurel Koppalman; honorable mention, Heather Ryan.

* Graduate criticism: Dan DeWeese.

* Graduate fiction: first prize, Rebecca Kelly; second prize, Loretta Stinson; honorable mention, Claudia Baskind.

* Vanguard awards: news, Taylor Barnes; feature, Barnes and Matthew Hein; opinion, Hein; arts and culture, Aaron Miles.

* Linguistic fellowship: David Baroffio.

* Haystack creative writing: Daryl Erlandson.

* Graduate non-fiction: Kathleen Holt, Erica Weisensee.

* Graduate poetry: Lucas Bernhardt.